CHIP

Families living with health insurance, and without: New storybook highlights why all Utah children need health insurance

Throughout the pandemic, health insurance has been a critical lifeline for Utah families to stay healthy and avoid medical debt. Yet many Utah children and parents are still unable to access any form of health insurance; they are denied coverage due to their immigration status. A new digital storybook, released by Voices for Utah Children, highlights families’ real-life experiences with health insurance and medical care. The stories reveal how having health insurance- or not having it- can alter a child’s life course.

The digital book is a collection of accounts shared by children, parents and caregivers across Utah. To protect the privacy and sensitive material shared, names were changed. The book includes accounts of children growing up without health insurance; the short and long-term positive impact of CHIP and Medicaid for children; immigrants and asylees finding the care they need; and children being denied care due to immigration status, while their siblings born in the United States can access care.

The storybook humanizes a problem that is often ignored: today in Utah, thousands of Utah children are still shut out of health coverage. As one DACA- recipient recounts in the book, growing up her families was “Too scared of the cost to go to the ER.”

However, there are glimpses of hope on the horizon. In the 2022 General Session, the Utah Legislature considered a bill that would allow all income-eligible children to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP, regardless of their background or immigration status. The bill, sponsored by Senator Luz Escamilla and Representative Mike Schultz, passed the Senate with broad support, but ran out of time in the House.

The book lifts up the stories behind the 2022 legislation. Previous reports from Voices for Utah Children have estimated the significant state savings if all children have coverage. The digital storybook shows the emotional, physical and financial costs families pay when their children are denied health insurance, and the life-changing benefits when families are able to get coverage.

Download Storybook Today!

Published in News & Blog

This Session, one of Voices for Utah Children’s top priority bills received very little public attention despite its behind-the-scenes activity. Below we will unpack what happened, lessons we learned, and what we believe the path forward should be so we can reach 100% Kids Coverage in Utah.

First a little background, during the 2021 Legislative Session, we were thrilled to see many statements in support of children’s health insurance coverage. Speaker Wilson highlighted children’s coverage and Utah’s high rate of uninsured kids during his opening Session remarks and supported funding for CHIP outreach. On the Senate side, Senator Escamilla championed a bill to Cover All Kids, which former House Leader, Representative Gibson, sponsored on the House side. While the bill did not make it through in the final days of the Session, it seemed well-positioned to pass in 2022.

Onto 2022…

This year Senator Luz Escamilla ran Senate Bill 185. Like her bill last year, SB 185 ensured all Utah children could get covered and stay covered by allowing income -eligible Utah children access to Medicaid and CHIP, regardless of immigration status. In addition, SB 185 restored funding for continuous eligibility for Medicaid children. Senator Escamilla skillfully navigated SB 185, with approval from the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee and broad support on the Senate floor. On the House side, Majority Leader, Representative Mike Schultz, stepped up as the House Sponsor to usher the bill across the finish line. But unfortunately, the bill was never brought to the full floor for a vote in the House.

So what happened this year?

Although SB 185 made it out of the Senate with little objections or pushback, it ran into obstacles in the House. The bill arrived in the House without enough time for a committee hearing. While it could have gone through without one, members of the House did not have the full time to discuss and familiarize themselves with the bill and work through question or concerns.  Although the bill never came to the floor for a full vote, it did have strong bipartisan support. Cover All Kids got even closer this year, but still fell short.

Going forward, we must discuss any questions or concerns directly. We invite lawmakers to join us in having honest conversations about the children we are leaving behind in our state, the children we are deciding not to cover. All children growing up in Utah need health insurance to thrive, regardless of their immigration status. To deny some children access to health care is unconscionable.

It is time we amplify the many voices, the stories, the statewide energy and support for Covering All Kids.  Lawmakers are ready; Utahns are ready. It’s time we act to Cover All Kids.

Learn more about the stories and join our campaign at https://www.100percentkids.health/take-action

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Utah has 82,000 uninsured children, according to the most recent Census data, which means an estimated 8.3% of children in Utah do not have health insurance. Utah currently ranks 46th in the nation for insured children.

When it comes to addressing this problem, too often public debate focuses on the cost to taxpayers of insuring Utah’s 82,000 uninsured children. But what about the cost of not insuring children?  Are there ways in which Utah taxpayers are already paying a price for allowing such a high number of uninsured children in our state?

In our new report, we address this question, building on findings from previous research. We explore two key ways in which Utah taxpayers are paying millions of dollars in costs annually for uninsured children:

1)  Uncompensated care for Utah’s 82,000 uninsured children may be costing state and local governments in Utah about $8.8 million annually.

2)  Covering all of Utah’s uninsured children would likely result in higher educational attainment levels, potentially adding nearly $10 million to Utah's personal income annually and generating over $800,000 in new tax revenue each year.

In sum, our report finds that Utah may be losing out on at least $9.6 million every year because of our high child uninsured rate.
 
We hope state leaders and policymakers will consider these findings as they review proposals to help improve Utah’s child uninsured rate. We can, as a state, remove barriers to Medicaid and CHIP.  We can adopt policies to help the thousands of Utah children unable to access health insurance.
 
These state proposals have costs, but the status quo is costing us even more. Our failure to act is undermining our state’s economy and holding back 82,000 children from achieving their full potential. As a state, we can no longer ignore the costs when thousands of children are uninsured and the profound savings when all children have coverage.
 

VIEW | DOWNLOAD Report

 

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July 30, 2020

Children’s Health

A Healthy Foundation for All Utah Kids to Thrive

Children and families need access to affordable, quality, health care. Health insurance provides a critical foundation for kids, so they can stay healthy, manage health conditions or problems, perform better in school, be active and thrive. ALL Utah kids should have access to health insurance. 

Unfortunately, too many Utah children do not have access to health coverage. Utah has:

  • One of the highest rates of uninsured children in the nation, 82,000 children (8%).
  • The highest rate of uninsured Hispanic/ Latinx children in the nation (19%).
  • The highest rate of children currently eligible for health insurance, but not enrolled. 

To address these problems, Voices for Utah Children works to strengthen health care access for families. Utah parents are working hard every day to make sure their kids are healthy, we need to make sure our healthcare policies are working for them.  

How do we do we reach 100% coverage and care for Utah kids?

  • Protect the foundational coverage that CHIP and Medicaid provides 
  • Connect Kids to Coverage! Improve children’s ability to access affordable, high-quality care 
  • Support Parent Coverage! It is critical for kids.
  • Cover All Kids! Remove all barriers to coverage.

Together we can help all kids be healthy and reach their full potential! Join our coalition of over 25 organizations who endorsed our 100% Kids Coverage Campaign to ensure all children in Utah have access to care! Click hear to sign on to our campaign today.

  • Alliance for a Better Utah
  • Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
  • Centro de la Familia de Utah
  • Centro Cívico Mexicano
  • Coalition of Religious Communities
  • Community Health Connect
  • Community Health Workers Section -UPHA
  • Comunidades Unidas
  • Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City
  • Crossroads Urban Center
  • Family Healthcare in St. George
  • Friends of the Children - Utah
  • Granite Education Foundation
  • Holy Cross Ministries
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Kids Who Count
  • Neighborhood House
  • Neighborworks Salt Lake
  • NW Salt Lake Rotary Club
  • OCA Asian Pacific Islander American Advocates Utah (OCA UTAH)
  • People’s Health Clinic
  • Primary Children’s Hospital
  • Root for Kids
  • Salt Lake City Mayor's Office
  • Salt Lake County Mayor's Office for New Americans
  • Smart Smiles School-Based Oral Health Program (Denticare Management)
  • The University of Utah Health Plans
  • Utah Health Policy Project
  • Utah Dental Hygienists' Association
  • Utah Chapter American Academy of Pediatrics
  • University Health Communities Clinics
  • YWCA of Utah
Published in 2020 Issues
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Let’s Keep All Families Covered: New Report Finds Number of Uninsured Latino Children in Utah on the Rise

2020 Utah Legislature Made Strides to Help All Children Stay Covered

Decades of progress improving health coverage rates for Latino children has begun to erode nationwide, and Utah is seeing significant increases in both the number and rate of children going without insurance, according to a new report by UnidosUS and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. These findings raise concerns that many children may not be able to access the health care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utah’s rate of uninsured Latino children rose faster than the national average, a statistically significant increase from 11.1 to 17.3 percent between 2016 and 2018. The number of children increased by about 60 percent, from about 18,900 to more than 30,200. What’s more, Latino children are almost 3½ times as likely to be uninsured as non-Latino children in Utah in 2018, a gap that is greater than the national average.

The report authors point to Trump Administration policies and rhetoric targeting immigrant families, as well as efforts to undermine health care programs, which have made it more difficult for families to sign their eligible children up for public health coverage. These national factors may influence children in Utah and the trend in the wrong direction.

During the 2020 Legislative Session, the Utah Legislature took a significant measure to reverse this trend and improve coverage for all Utah children by appropriating funding to keep children covered, a policy known as Medicaid 12-month continuous eligibility. Continuous eligibility ensures children can maintain stable, year-round health coverage, even if parents experience temporary changes in income or employment status, especially important given the abrupt changes many low-income families are experiencing now.

State Senator Luz Escamilla, champion for 12-month continuous coverage and children’s health care, said: “Health coverage is critical for all children because it improves their health and educational outcomes during childhood and sets them up for a healthier and more prosperous future with better opportunities to reach their full potential.” Said Senator Escamilla, “The actions this session show that working together we can make progress to help Utah kids.”

A policy of continuous coverage is a key priority of the 100% Kids Coverage Campaign, led by Voices for Utah Children, to ensure that all children in the state have health coverage. The campaign also calls for more Medicaid and CHIP outreach and coverage for children regardless of their family immigration status. Report lead author, Kelly Whitener notes, “The majority of uninsured children are eligible for affordable health coverage through Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled.”

Voices for Utah Children policy analyst, Ciriac Alvarez Valle said, “Going forward, we will work to help more children and families get covered and overcome barriers to enrollment and care.” Alvarez Valle added, “No family should be afraid to get the care they need. We call on our state leaders to help Utah families feel safe getting health care now.”

For help enrolling in health insurance, visit: www.takecareutah.org  or call 2-1-1

For the full report: https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2020/03/10/decade-of-success-for-latino-childrens-health-now-in-jeopardy/

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It’s been a busy end-of-year for Utah kids’ health coverage, from ACA open enrollment to full Medicaid expansion (almost!). Here’s what’s been going on and what lies ahead in 2020...

Where are Utah kids going??


At the last Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee meeting, we learned that 398 children dis-enrolled from Medicaid and CHIP in October. While this is better than the 2,637 who lost coverage the previous month (no, that’s not a typo), the question remains: Where are these kids going?? Are they moving over to the private insurance market? Or are they uninsured? Unfortunately, we still don’t know.

American Community Survey data suggest lower income children are the most likely to be uninsured in Utah. However, we do not have good real-time data to track why Utah kids are dis-enrolling from Medicaid or CHIP at such an unprecedented rate.

Reasons for this coverage loss may include red tape and confusion about children’s health insurance options, and federal anti-immigrant hostilities creating a climate of fear for many families. But again, our best data has a one-year lag time. It is critical we make sure kids are getting connected with health insurance now. We know from research that when kids go uninsured it has a negative impact on their life trajectory.

We commend our state agencies for their attention to this issue; we urge them to survey families who recently lost coverage so that we can make sure kids are getting covered and staying covered.

Full Medicaid expansion*… coming soon to Utah?

In November, the Utah Department of Health submitted its “fallback” waiver request to fully expand Medicaid! On December 7th, the federal comment period closed. THANK YOU to the over 4,800 people who submitted federal and state comments.

We now await federal approval for Utah to enact full Medicaid expansion. It’s been a long, complicated road, but we just might get there. Find out if you’re eligible for Medicaid.

*Unfortunately, this is not exactly the expansion Utahns voted for. Our state is tacking on harmful work requirements, premiums, surcharges and red tape to Medicaid coverage for the newly eligible. These added requirements will make it harder for Utah parents and children to get care. If approved, we will work hard to prevent these provisions from causing families to lose the coverage and care they need.

Have a story to share about how Medicaid coverage will make a difference in your life? Share your story here.

Open Enrollment: Last Day to Apply is December 15th!

In need of health insurance for you or your family? Call 2-1-1 or visit TakeCareUtah.org to learn more about the health insurance marketplace.

What’s coming up in 2020?

We are excited to see many opportunities- big and small- to help Utah kids and parents get connected with health insurance in 2020:

  • Expanded texting support to help kids and families connect with coverage, thanks to an exciting new campaign through United Way of Salt Lake.
  • Medicaid outreach from the Utah Department of Health! The Department is hiring outreach workers to help eligible individuals learn about Medicaid expansion. This is an exciting step to help more parents enroll.
  • Finally, the Utah Department of Health will -hopefully- be releasing guidelines for Medicaid ACOs, which will allow them to remind eligible members of their upcoming renewals. Many eligible individuals often lose coverage when their renewal is due. (Legislation passed in 2019 on this issue, but the guidelines have yet to be released)

… And so much more! Here’s to a 2020 where more Utah kids and families can get access to affordable health coverage and care!

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Going Down a Scary Path: Utah kids are losing health insurance

Over the past two years, Utah has seen an alarming increase in our child uninsured rate. After years of steady progress, it is frightening to see kids lose health insurance. 7.4% or 72,000 Utah kids now lack health insurance, when only 6% or 59,000 kids were uninsured in 2016. We are seeing some of the most significant coverage decline among young children, age 0-5, an age when it is so critical for kids to have access to have screenings, check-ups and care. Why is this happening? Over the past two years Utah and our nation have experienced an unpredictable health care environment, affecting CHIP, Medicaid expansion and the ACA, leading to misinformation and confusion; administrative complexity and lack of continuous coverage leading to disruptions in kids coverage; anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric leading families to feel unwelcome and unsafe enrolling in programs. These are scary barriers keeping Utah kids from getting the care and coverage they need and Voices for Utah Children will be working hard to keep Utah from continuing down this path any further.

Tricks and Treats

After a roller coaster summer, the Utah Department of Health is submitting a waiver proposal to expand Medicaid, fully, up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Currently, Utah has only partially expanded Medicaid. Partial expansion has meant that more individuals are eliglble for Medicaid, but also that thousands of individuals and parents are still shut out of coverage, while Utah pays more money to cover fewer people. We are excited for Utah to take this step closer to full Medicaid expansion, as voters supported.

But unfortunately, this latest waiver proposal also includes harmful, additional barriers such as work reporting requirements and additional cost requirements for enrollees. These added requirements will make it harder for Utah parents and children to get coverage and care. Comments are needed to prevent these harmful requirements from moving forward.

We need your help to get Utah back on the right track to full expansion (the ‘treat’ without the tricks!). Submit your comments today to stand up for full Medicaid expansion, without additional barriers or restrictions.

Finally, the Public Charge rule was recently blocked in the courts. The Public Charge is postponed until further notice. But we still have work ahead of us and we must undo the damage already done as a result of anticipation of this harmful rule, and other anti-immigrant hostilities.

Learn more about the latest developments in the Public Charge rule here.

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Updates on kids coverage in Utah: Kids are losing Medicaid/CHIP coverage, meanwhile Utah is still paying more to cover fewer people…and more!

Why are Utahns paying more to cover fewer people?

Under Utah’s current partial expansion plan (aka the “bridge plan”), Utah is paying 30% more to cover thousands of fewer kids and families on Medicaid. To date, around 34,000 new individuals have enrolled in Medicaid coverage, although at least 50,000 still remain in the gap, unable to afford coverage on their own and not offered it through their job. Utah has left at least $7 million in federal funds on the table so far-- funds that could be used to help more families get coverage and care. (New update: latest reports state the Trump administration will reject Utah's partial expansion. It's time to stop paying more to cover fewer people.)

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Alarming Trend in Kids' Medicaid/CHIP Coverage

Utah kids are dis-enrolling from Medicaid/ CHIP at an alarming rate. At the July Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee meeting we learned that over 2,000 kids lost Medicaid/CHIP coverage last month. Such a steep drop cannot be explained by a strong economy alone. The number of Utah kids leaving CHIP/ Medicaid are among the highest in the nation. Both the Utah Department of Health and Department of Workforce Services have committed to doing additional investigation as to WHY kids are losing coverage. We greatly appreciate that they are taking this issue seriously and are working to find answers.

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Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee Once Again Prioritizes 12-Month Continuous Eligibility- Let's Keep Kids Covered!

For the third straight year, the Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee prioritized 12-month continuous eligibility for children on Medicaid as one of their top funding requests to the Governor. 12-month continuous eligibility would allow more kids to get covered- and stay covered. Current Medicaid reporting requirements mean many kids unnecessarily lose coverage, with cascading negative impacts. This policy would protect kids and families. The Utah Medicaid Advisory Committee has continually prioritized this as a cost-effective, best practice to keep kids healthy, consistently voting in favor of the Utah Department of Health adopting this policy.

health insurance

The Latest on Utah’s Medicaid Waiver

Utahns submitted a record 1,700 comments on Utah’s partial Medicaid expansion. Thanks to all who stood up for voter-approved full Medicaid expansion. Utahns voiced strong opposition to the proposed cuts, caps and barriers to Medicaid coverage which would leave many kids and parents without coverage or care. These comments send a message to state and federal officials and will provide the backbone for any future legal action.

Haven’t submitted a comment yet? There’s still time! Submit a comment here: www.utahchildren.org/comment

GMMB comment graphic

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Report: 2019 UTAH STATE OF CHILDREN’S COVERAGE REPORT 100% Kids: Giving All Kids the Opportunity to Thrive

Executive Summary

Health insurance coverage provides children with the foundation they need to be healthy and thrive. When children have health insurance, they have better health outcomes, greater academic success and more economic opportunities later in life.

Utah lags behind the rest of the nation when it comes to covering kids. In Utah, 7% of all children are uninsured, compared to 5% nationally. While Utah has made significant strides over the years connecting more children to coverage, in the last year, Utah’s child uninsured rate has increased. In 2017, Utah was one of only nine states to see its child uninsured rate trend in the wrong direction.

Who are the uninsured children of Utah? They are overwhelmingly low-income. Typically, their parents are uninsured too. The majority are eligible for CHIP or Medicaid insurance, but not enrolled. Some are not eligible for insurance at all because of their citizenship or immigration status. They live across Utah, with a higher percentage of uninsured children living in rural areas. Some children may have never been insured; some may have had insurance and then lost it or had a parent dis-enroll them due to stigma or fear of enrolling in public health insurance programs. They come from all racial and ethnic backgrounds however, a disproportionate percentage of uninsured children in Utah are Latino, the highest in the nation. Some come from families experiencing intergenerational poverty, some are immigrants, refugees or asylum seekers, facing steep obstacles to their health and well-being.

But no matter who they are, they are all Utahns. When 7% of our child population lacks health insurance, we put Utah’s future at risk. Utah is at a unique moment to challenge the negative trends and demand that all children, no matter their background, zip code, citizenship or immigration status, can access affordable health coverage.
The 100% Kids Coverage Campaign is led by a diverse coalition of stakeholders. This multi-year campaign has a goal of ensuring all Utah children will have coverage. Guided by four over-arching policy recommendations, the Campaign proposes to change Utah’s health coverage landscape:

  1. Strengthen and protect Medicaid coverage for parents
  2. Keep kids covered all year round
  3. Support consistent outreach and enrollment support
  4. Cover all kids, regardless of background or immigration status


Through targeted policies, political and community engagement, we can ensure that all Utah kids have the health coverage they need to grow, thrive and succeed in life. We believe that it is possible for 100% of Utah children to have access to affordable, consistent health coverage. We invite you to join us and help us reach 100% together.


The full report can be downloaded below. For a free print copy please call Voices at 801-364-1182

 

 

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